This year I had the impression that the seasons had nudged forward by a month. Spring began during March and although I had the logs crackling on the fire in the evening, the days were often bright and perfect for hiking which I did a lot of. However, during winter we had seen a lot of rain, some of it torrential and the little river at the bottom of my garden was deep and fast flowing as spring arrived. The vines started to wake from their winter sleep in early April and the spring sunshine and warmer than normal temperatures soon had them sporting their tufts of greenery like ribbons twisted into little bows. Flowering began just as it should and the little green flowers soon turned to baby grapes and by the end of May we had what looked like bunches of ‘petit pois’ beginning their short journey of around 100 days to become sweet juicy grapes.
I first came across the label 'Tinkerbelle' when visiting a winery in Provence last summer. It’s a term that’s occasionally being used in France for female winemakers. To begin with I was not sure it was complimentary but in fact I’ve discovered that it is intended to be. Tinkerbelles are sprinkling their fairy dust around the vineyards and wineries all over Languedoc and producing some top class wines in what used to be a very male dominated profession. I work with a lot of female winemakers and although none of them would like to be known by this appellation alone. They are proud to be winemakers and proud to be women. Take Nicole Bojanowski of Clos du Gravillas who has been producing top class wines for over 14 years from magical terroir. This ‘Tink’ is no common fairy, she works with great thoughtfulness and care producing wines with style and charm. Bridgette Chevalier of Domaine de Cébène in the Faugères appellation is living up to the Tinkerbell name by producing mystical wines that I am sure will become legendary and Katie Jones of Domaine Jones who has been making wine for a few years now has also received great acclaim. However hers’ is no fairy tale, she has had to battle against people in her community who are afraid of the change she and her like are bringing to wine making.
In some parts of the world Grenache is not a deeply appreciated grape variety but this is not true in Languedoc-Roussillon or the Rhône, Provence and of course the country where it hails from, Spain where it’s known as Garnacha. Luckily many people around the world are keen fans of this succulent grape and for the past few years it has been celebrated annually with ‘Grenache Day’ which this year is Friday 19th September.